December 2, 2007

China and Japan cooperation

China and Japan amicably wrapped up their first high-level trade and economic talks by pledging greater overall cooperation — but left the touchy issue of gas exploration in the East China Sea unresolved. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hailed the two-day meeting as "successful," and the two sides issued a joint statement promising to strengthen efforts to form a regional free-trade zone, promote energy efficiency and improve protection of intellectual property rights.

They also agreed to participate in an anti-global warming framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, and cooperate on measures to combat money laundering, terrorism financing and smuggling. The discussions, modeled after similar dialogues China holds with the United States and the European Union, were aimed at strengthening ties between the two longtime rivals for regional influence. They bring together the largest number of Cabinet officials from the two countries since they opened diplomatic ties 35 years ago. Although the meetings mark a new willingness to move beyond divisive disputes that have chilled relations over the past decade, there were still no breakthroughs in Japan's chief issue — China's exploitation of a gas field that straddles a contested part of the East China Sea.

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